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Bracing for BioShock

Slated for an August 21st release, BioShock is now a little over 40 days away. Even with that much time between here and then, my gamer instincts are going nuts, and I've been following it pretty heavily lately.

The latest news would be that the system requirements have been released. It looks like fairly middle of the road, it won't require an incredible system but you will need one that's capable of running a relatively modern game. 1 GB of ram, 2 GB recommended. A 2.4 Ghz processor, a dual core recommended. A relatively up to date (about 2005 or later) video card with at least 128 MB of RAM, a good video card with 512 MB recommended.

The most comprehensive video developer commentary I've seen of BioShock, hailing from last year's E3.

However, what do we know of BioShock itself? On first impressions, BioShock would seem to be another System Shock. We know that Irrational Games, developers of System Shock 2, were involved in the creation of BioShock. The setting of System Shock 2 is a ship in deep space in which something has gone very wrong. The setting of BioShock is a city in the ocean depths in which something has gone very wrong. Even the name itself suggests it is a spiritual successor.

Yet, further investigation reveals some interesting differences.
  • There's a greater focus on creating uniquely acting characters in BioShock. The widely illustrated example is that of the Big Daddy and the Little Sister. The Big Daddy patrols the hallways seeking Little Sisters to protect. Then the Little Sister will will seek out dead bodies to harvest and reactivate ADAM (a major BioShock commodity) from. Meanwhile, the player is free to observe - he won't be attacked by the Big Daddy unless he attacks it or the Little Sister.
  • There seems to be a greater emphasis on the player making moral decisions this time around. For example, once you have defeated her Big Daddy guardian, do you harvest the ADAM from the Little Sister (killing her) or do you cure her? It's mentioned during at least one developer podcast and video that, in this way and others, you will be regularly presented with the choice to save yourself or the citizens of Rapture.
  • Plasmids, a technology from the city of Rapture that allows you to rewrite your own genetic code to perform a number of interesting effects. To an extent, you can say that System Shock 2 Psi-focused users had more abilities. However, all players will be using Plasmids in BioShock, as you've a certain number of Plasmid slots and not using them would just be your character's potential. Besides, it looks like the Plasmids are a lot more useful than your average SS2 Psi-power, and part of that is due to the next thing...
  • Physics. It's here and in a pivotal role in the game. A Telekinesis plasmid makes catching grenades and throwing them back nearly trivial. In one video, I see a developer rearranging a trap to affect his enemies.
  • The newest set of clips from BioShock (below) reveal it to be considerably more action-packed than System Shock 2. While you might spend a lot of time just roaming lonely corridors in SS2 building up nervous anticipation, BioShock looks to be a bit more exciting.

All things considered, BioShock may not be the survival horror game that System Shock 2 was, but rather an action-packed moral drama in a fascinating world.
Some of the newest footage, this is an action packed set of BioShock clips.

Some games you can hype until you're red in the face but you play them and realize they're crap. For example, Daikatana. Some games have a unique concept but they keep getting sent back to the drawing board (Spore) never get released (Starcraft: Ghost) or are released without producing an entertaining enough game (Auto Assault) because these unique concepts proved a lot harder to realize than the developers anticipated. Some games are barely recognizable as unique and interesting prior to their release but when you play them you realize that they're actually quite good. For example, Psychonauts. Finally, there are games like BioShock, ones that you can tell are a winner even before they're released from a few gameplay videos and it's not hype that's making you think so.

I'm looking forward to it - perhaps a little too much - I really need to find something I can play in the meanwhile. Supposedly, Super Paper Mario and GrimGremoire are on their way from GameFly.
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